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Apprenticeships May Be the Right Vocational Choice for Veterans with Challenges
“Apprenticeships provide a pathway to family-sustaining jobs,” said Women’s Bureau Acting Director Erica Clayton Wright (DOL, 2019). In 2018, there were 98,435 veterans in apprenticeship programs across the United States.1 In this article we will discuss the value of apprenticeships, offer a case study, and provide resources for pursuing an earn and learn career strategy.
Value of Apprenticeships
Apprenticeship is a unique strategy to developing in-demand workplace and technical skills while earning a paycheck in the career of your dreams from day one. Approximately 81,000 apprentices graduated from the apprenticeship system in FY 2019.2 The average wage for a fully proficient worker who completes an apprenticeship is $50,000 annually. 3 Apprenticeships are industry-driven, high quality career pathways that allow (1) employers to commit to developing their future workforce and (2) individuals to earn a nationally recognized portable credential.
Key Elements of Apprenticeships
- Apprentices earn a competitive wage from their employers during training
- Structured on-the-job learning with an experienced mentor is provided
- Participants earn a portable, nationally recognized credential within their industry
The length of an apprenticeship program varies depending on the employer, complexity of the occupation, industry, and type of program. Not all apprenticeships are offered in every community nor are they always available. Entry to an apprenticeship is often competitive. Employers and their training partners can register their programs with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to show job-seeking veterans that their apprenticeship programs meet national standards. In fiscal year 2019, nearly 25,000 registered apprenticeship programs were active across the nation and 3,133 new apprenticeship programs were established. 4
Finding an Apprenticeship
The United Services Military Apprenticeship Program (USMAP) is a formal military training program that provides active duty Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps service members the opportunity to improve their job skills and complete their civilian apprenticeship requirements while they are on active duty. DOL provides the nationally recognized Certificate of Completion upon program completion. Some 13,707 military service members completed the USMAP in 2019. 5 If you are eligible, your GI Bill benefits can provide a monthly housing allowance and stipend for books and supplies in addition to your registered apprenticeship wages. If you qualify for the Montgomery GI Bill, you may receive up to 36 months of education benefits. Additionally, the Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) program, formerly known as Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment, can help service members and veterans with a service-connected disability obtain suitable custom apprenticeship programs approved by a VR&E counselor. To apply for VR&E benefits and determine your eligibility, fill out VA Form 28-1900. Lastly, information about apprenticeships may also be available through a local American Job Center (AJC).Case Study: National Elevator Industry Educational Program
The National Elevator Industry Educational Program (NEIEP) is a joint labor–management educational trust fund serving the International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) and the employers who employ its members. In Houston, the four-year program is supported by IUEC Local 31. For each year of a typical program, apprentices must complete a predetermined number of hours of technical instruction and paid on-the-job training. Apprentices are responsible for assisting in the installation, maintenance, and repair of passenger and freight elevators, escalators, dumbwaiters, and moving sidewalks under the direction of a mechanic. Some of NEIEP’s main responsibilities are to manage and direct the implementation of curriculum design and administer and monitor probationary training and evaluation programs for all new hires entering the trade.
Interested individuals go through an eligibility assessment process that includes an interview, a pre-hire exam (Elevator Industry Aptitude Test), and a recruitment and application process with the local training sponsor such as IUEC Local 31. Application periods vary by location and local needs. Veterans with a Navy Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) such as 743B Shipboard Elevator Mechanical Maintenance; 764A Shipboard Elevator Electrical Maintenance; ABE Aviation Boatswain’s Mate, Launching and Recovery Equipment; or U19A UNREP Equipment Mechanic may have the right background for employment in this industry. Similarly, Army MOS codes 12B Combat Engineer or 91B Wheeled Vehicle Repairer may also be a good fit.
- GI Bill Benefits, If you have questions about GI Bill Benefits, visit the VA’s eBenefits website or call 1-800-827-1000 (Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m – 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time).
- Apprenticeship.gov is the one-stop source to connect career seekers, employers, and education partners with apprenticeship resources. Learn how to become an apprentice.
- Search open apprenticeship job opportunities from employers across the country using the Apprenticeship.gov Apprenticeship Job Finder and apply directly with the employer of the apprenticeship program.
- Search for a local American Job Center (AJC) near you to inquire about whether there are any known apprenticeships in your area.
1 U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (downloaded 11/10/20), https://www.dol.gov/agencies/eta/apprenticeship/about/statistics.
3 U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (downloaded 11/10/20), https://www.dol.gov/apprenticeship/toolkit/toolkitfaq.htm#2e.